Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Boston Celtics Preview and Pick – Game 2

Cleveland Cavaliers (45-37 regular season) +8, o/u 178 at Boston Celtics (66-16), 7 pm Eastern Thursday, ESPN
by Zman of

The Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers hook up for game two of their best-of-7 Eastern Conference semi-final series Thursday night after playing one of the ugliest playoff games of recent times in the series opener Tuesday night.

Boston held off the Cavs 76-72 to take game one Tuesday, a game in which LeBron James went 2-for-18 from the floor for Cleveland and Paul Pierce and Ray Allen combined to put up the exact same numbers for the Celtics. Boston led 41-37 at the half, and then the teams combined to score just 70 points in the second half. Also, the two teams together committed 38 turnovers.

The Celtics shot 43% from the field Tuesday, and held the Cavaliers to just 31% shooting. Rebounds were basically even, and Cleveland, playing on the road, actually got the better of the free-throw discrepancy, going 22-of-26 from the line while Boston went 14-of-18. And as bad as the Cavaliers performed on the offensive end of the court, they had a chance to tie the game in the waning moments. But a James lay-in bounced off the back of the rim and out.

The Cavs covered the spread in game one as nine-point road dogs, and the game easily and we mean easily – stayed under its total of 182.

NBA Sportsbooks have adjusted the lines on game two accordingly; Boston is listed as eight-point home favorites for Thursday’s game, with an over/under of 178. Also, the Celtics are posted at around -425 on various Vegas moneylines, while Cleveland is getting around +340.

These two teams split four meetings during this regular season, each team winning twice at home (that’s a correction from what was posted in this space Tuesday); the Cavaliers won 109-104 in overtime and 114-113 in a game that Garnett missed because of injury, while Boston won 80-70 in a game that James missed because of injury and 92-87. Cleveland covered the spread in three of those games, and the o/u went 2-2, as the four games averaged 185 total points per.

The Celtics outshot the Cavs from the field in those four games together 47% to 42.5%, but Cleveland, the top rebounding team in the league this season, outboarded Boston by a 44-39 per-game average.

The Cavaliers went 37-45 against the spread during the regular season, 18-23 straight up but 22-19 vs. the numbers on the road. Meanwhile, the Celts went 52-28 ATS this season, 35-6 SU and 25-15 vs. the numbers at home.

During the playoffs, Cleveland is 4-3 straight up and 5-2 against the spread overall, and 2-2 SU and 3-1 ATS on the road. Also, the totals are 3-4 in Cavs playoff games this year, which are averaging 182 total points.

Boston is 5-3 straight up and 4-4 against the spread in the playoffs this season, 5-0 SU and 4-1 ATS at home. The totals are 4-4 in Celtics playoff games, which are averaging 181.5 total points per.

During the regular season, Cleveland ranked 15th in the league in point differential at -.3 per game, 11th in FG defense at 45.5%, and 1st in rebounding at +4.2 per game. Also, the Cavs shot 44% from the floor, 36% from the 3-point line and just 72% from the charity stripe. Cleveland also posted a 20/13 per-game assist-to-turnover ratio.

Meanwhile, Boston led the league in point differential at +10.3 per game and in FG defense at 42%, and ranked 4th in rebounding at +3.1 per game. Also, the Celtics shot 48% from the field, 38% from long range and 77% from the line. Boston put up a 22/14 per-game A/TO ratio.

The Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings at ranks the Cavaliers 14th at 90.5, the Celts 1st at 99.6. Sagarin’s current NBA home-court advantage figure is 3.8.

During the regular season, the o/u went 37-43 in Cavs games, which averaged 193 total points per, while the totals went 36-45 in Boston games, which averaged 191 points.

Zman’s Picks: We look for Boston to dominate tonight and cover the spread.